Ryan Thorburn is taking this ambulance full of medical equipment to a Mexican community in need.

Ryan Thorburn is taking this ambulance full of medical equipment to a Mexican community in need.

Thorburn on a medical mission to Mexico

Comox paramedic donating ambulance, equipment to new clinic in El Tuito

  • Dec. 7, 2015 9:00 a.m.

Erin Haluschak

Record staff

 

Ryan Thorburn’s career has taken him across the world to Tokyo and south to Haiti for reactive measures, but he’s counting on his current trip to Mexico to be much more proactive.

The Comox paramedic was a member of the Canadian Medical Assistance Teams which deployed its rapid disaster assessment team to Sendai, Japan in March 2011 following the devastating 9.0-magnitude earthquake and ensuing tsunami.

In 2010, Thorburn volunteered with CMAT, working in Haiti following their catastrophic 7.0 magnitude earthquake.

Now, with an ambulance full of donated wheelchairs, walkers, crutches and canes, he is en route to El Tuito, an area about an hour south of Puerto Vallarta, with the goal of helping residents with safe and comfortable medical transport.

“I work for BC Ambulance and I wanted to buy one of the older ambulances and do something with it … I thought that taking it to a small place in Mexico would be kind of fun. That’s what I did. This is from the fleet – it’s actually a Port Hardy ambulance – it was decommissioned. I purchased it from asset disposal through the BC Government. With a few fixes and a few dollars, it’s running tip-top now.”

Thorburn began raising money with the help of friends and family but quickly realized it wasn’t going to be enough. Strathcona Sunrise Rotary Club accepted his initiative as their international project and gave him the destination of El Tuito.

“We’ve done a lot of fundraising. A lot of Mexican dinners, and I’ve hit up all my friends and family for support, and the fire department. We’ve all pitched in.”

Driving down with a friend who works as a wastewater specialist, Thorburn left last week and hopes to be in the region by mid-week this week.

While the ambulance itself won’t be used to make house calls, it will be doing transfers between the clinic in El Tuito, which serves 15 villages, and Puerto Vallarta.

“The actual health clinic isn’t even open yet – it’s going to be open in the new year and they don’t have a way to comfortably take patients from the clinic to Puerto Vallarta. There are people there who are eagerly awaiting for wheelchairs right now … just the basics that would help the clinic get by.”

While Thorburn is used to the Canadian health system, he understands the various medical standards around the world.

Many people, particularly those in El Tuito, take care of themselves, and take it upon their own families to make it to health clinics, he noted. He hopes to alleviate some of that pressure with use of the ambulance.

“It’s more of a proactive service as opposed to a reactive service. Hopefully it’ll be useful and in the future if they extend their care at the clinic to go door-to-door maybe I can be involved in going down more. So (the ambulance) will provide some comfort and a decent asset for the clinic.”

While he admitted the trip is different than travelling to Haiti or Japan – particularly emotionally – one issue that Thorburn has thought about is his safety.

Last month, two Australian travellers who were on a road trip from Edmonton to Guadalajara were found dead in a burnt-out shell of a van in the Sinaloa region of Mexico.

In 2014, a 33-year-old New York stock trader disappeared while travelling to Brazil for the World Cup on his motorcycle. His body was found later near the resort town of Zihuatanejo, in the state of Guerrero.

Thorburn explained he has worked through a lot of the paperwork necessary for the trip, but takes comfort in looking at the bigger picture.

“I do have to travel through the area where the Edmonton fellows (travelled). I am worried, but if you look at the big numbers – the number of tourists who have gone to Mexico and did not encounter any problems – it’s okay. There’s a Rotary Club down there that’s going to receive me when I get there.”

He plans on crossing the border at Tijuana Dec. 8 or 9, and will return on Dec. 19, after teaching first aid and delivering the equipment and ambulance.

 

 

–Photo courtesy CTV Vancouver Island

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A bench designed and created by Comox woodworker Brian Mayenburg. Photo submitted
Building for a cause to better the community

Comox woodworker raising funds for Comox Valley Food Bank

Greg Baute (inset), senior director of breeding and genetics at Aurora Cannabis, will be the guest speaker at the next Comox Valley Horticultural Society (CVHS) meeting. Photo supplied
Cannabis breeding discussed at next Comox Valley Horticultural Society meeting

Greg Baute, senior director of breeding and genetics at Aurora Cannabis, will… Continue reading

The next speaker in NIC’s online 2021 Artist Talk series is Scott Amos, one half of the group Monkey C Interactive, which has drawn attention for transforming old technologies into interactive works of art, such as Registroid (supplied photo)
Next North Island College Artist Talk speaker breathes new life into old technology

Interactive installation artist Scott Amos will be the next speaker at North… Continue reading

The platanthera dilatata is the fragrant white bog orchid whose perfume on a hot August day is one of the unforgettable delights of a summer hike in Strathcona Park. Photo supplied
Strathcona Wilderness Institute AGM upcoming

The Strathcona Wilderness Institute (SWI) will hold its 2021 annual general meeting… Continue reading

Demonstrators gathered Friday, March 5 at the Courtenay Court House, demanding protection of old-growth forests. Scott Stanfield photo
Citizens march in Courtenay in name of old-growth rainforests

The Comox Valley is one of the B.C. communities engaged in mobilization… Continue reading

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Anyone with information is asked to call Nanaimo RCMP at 250-754-2345 or contact Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-222-8477 or submitting a tip online at www.nanaimocrimestoppers.com.
21-year-old motorbike rider dies after crash with ATV on Nanaimo back road

Incident happened Sunday afternoon near Boomerang Lake

(Black Press Media files)
Hosts charged, attendees facing COVID fines after Vancouver police bust party at condo

Police had previously received 10 complains about that condo

Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Ahmed Hussen takes part in an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. A joint federal and B.C. government housing program announced today aims to help people living in up to 25,000 vulnerable households pay their rent. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Federal, B.C. governments announce $517-million rent aid program to help vulnerable

Benefits for those not eligible for B.C.’s Rental Assistance Program or Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters

Demonstrators gathered Friday, March 5 at the Courtenay Court House, demanding protection of old-growth forests. Scott Stanfield photo
Citizens march in Courtenay in name of old-growth rainforests

The Comox Valley is one of the B.C. communities engaged in mobilization… Continue reading

(BC SPCA)
Is it safe to give your dog some peanut butter? Not always, BC SPCA warns

Some commercial peanut butter ingredients can be harmful to dogs

Health Minister Adrian Dix, front, B.C. Premier John Horgan and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrive for a news conference about the provincial response to the coronavirus, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, March 6, 2020. Pandemic emergency measures have been in place for almost a year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. officials plead for patience as 1.7 million COVID-19 calls flood in

Vaccine registration for 90-plus seniors opened Monday

A West Kootenay man died in an avalanche on March 4 while snowmobiling near Mount Payne, which is indicted by the red flag. Illustration: Google Maps
B.C. father of 3 dead after avalanche in West Kootenay

The man was snowmobiling with a group when incident occurred March 4

Most Read